Ritual is how we connect to the numinous, the Other, that which is Noibos (sacred). As such, it is the “bread and butter” of communing with Gods, Spirits, and Ancestors. There may well be other ways, but a methodical ritual with the right elements is time tested. Rituals, at least not those of holidays, at Tegoslougos Nemotarvos, are relatively simple. With, at the most, two members at any given time, things that require a decent number of people to pull off are pretty much out of the question. What’s more, we live in a rather small apartment. So, there really isn’t much room for either a large Liccâ (Altar).
So, with a small number of people, and in a small space, regular rituals were devised. to be honest, these rites aren’t that different from many others. As a member of Toutâ Galation, I’d be remiss not to post what is basically the official ritual format of the Toutâ. This is the kind of ritual that I like for holidays, and as I (slowly) start improving my Gaulish, I’ll be able to memorize the words to the rituals. It was created by Segomâros Widugeni (his name pops up a lot in Gaulish Polytheist discourse, and for good reason), who in turn was influenced by Ceisiwr Serith, and his book ‘Deep Ancestors’.
I’ll start by saying the official ritual format is the best that I have found, in my opinion. At home, I like smaller, quicker, and simpler rituals, though. Mainly because it leaves less room for error. Also, because I’m honestly not very good at managing time. Other than the use of Gaulish language, this basic format may work well with other Polytheisms. Regardless, here is the rundown of how I conduct basic, everyday (okay, weekly) ritual observances at Tegoslougos Nemotarvos.
To start, I wash my hands. I haven’t got to the point of making holy water, but I make a point of making my hands clean in a mundane fashion as well. What may differ from others is that I use a special soap (handmade and local, to boot) for rituals. As the Gaulish were using soap relatively early on (in contrast to the Romans, for example, who used olive oil) I feel like having ritual soap is my own take on the matter. After washing my hands, while they are still wet, I take a small swipe at my forehead, then another down the sides of my face.
I do this to remind myself of a few basic points of Gaulish worldview. One of those is doing things in threes. Which is common among Indo-European cultures in general, admittedly. The second is the high value that the Gauls are said to have placed on the head, believing it to be the seat of the soul. I normally perform rituals after a shower anyway, but the hand washing, along with the touches on the head have a special significance to me.
When doing the hand and head thing (catchy name, I know) I say these words:
Upon washing my hands: Glanolâmiâs (Clean Hands)
Upon swiping my forehead: Glanobritus (Clean Mind)
Upon swiping down my face: Glanoanation (Clean Soul)
If I got the idea from someone, I don’t know who, and I don’t remember seeing it anywhere. As far as I know, I came up with it myself. This helps get me in the right mindset for ritual, which I find very important. I believe one should be free of mental clutter before engaging with the Dêwoi, or any other being in ritual.
Generally, I consider silence one of the sweetest and holiest of things. Seriously though, a moment of holy silence has both the sacred connotation of respect for the beings who are the focus of the ritual, and the practical application of getting your thoughts straight before preforming the rite. Also, a moment to find the writings of invocations I have.
This is where I light the candles on the Liccâ (altar), this might be done in Brigantiâ’s name in a larger or holiday rite, but not for the regular ones. I don’t say anything special here, but just light the candles. I normally light the right one, then the left. However, in rites to Taranis, I go left to right. Not for historical reasons, but because west to east is the normal direction of traveling storms. Otherwise, right to left, like the course of the sun. Just my take, not an attested thing to my knowledge.
Self explanatory, I guess. Segomâros kindly provides invocations to some Gods on his own blog. I find them sufficient for regular rites. After which, I occasionally spend some time attempting to commune with the recipient.
I generally do this during the Uediâ. Wine is a good “go to”. I normally use cider, most alcohols work with most Dêwoi. With a few exceptions. Don’t give mead to Eponâ, she provides mead, so, it’s kind of pointless. Same with Rosmertâ. Wine is probably not the best for Sucellus or Nantosuelta, and I don’t believe in giving beer to Lugus because it is he who wins the grain harvest, but as far as I know, I’m the only one with that opinion. I generally don’t offer beer anyway, as I’ve never got any complaints about cider.
However, beer is fine, but if you can afford it, get a decent beer. Unless you’re broke (in that case, totally understandable), you can do better than cheap beer. If you’re not of the age to get alcohol where you live, whole milk is fine. Offering skim milk unless it’s all you’ve got should be blasphemy if it isn’t already. I’m of the mind that apple, pear, or grape juice is okay, but some may disagree with that. I’ve had no issues when offering apple juice when I didn’t have alcohol. Your mileage may vary.
Bread is generally a good choice. I hear of many folks in different traditions shaping loaves out of sacrificial animals. That’s a great idea. Though I’m sure that the Gods can tell the difference between an animal and your skillfully crafted loaf, They may well appreciate the effort. So far, plain old bread hasn’t hurt me any. Get some decent bread if you can, though. Better yet, make it from scratch if you can.
Meat is a good choice, mind what animal you get it from, however. Unless it’s all you’ve got, I’m not of the mind to think something like a hot dog is a good choice, but I don’t know, and perhaps one of you brave souls might try it. In this case, I like to match up the meat with the God, but some do it other ways. I’ve never been in a position to sacrifice a live animal, but if done as quick and humanely as possible, by someone who knows what they’re doing, I don’t oppose it. If you garden or farm, fresh produce probably works fine as well.
This is when I say my thanks to the recipient of the ritual, and blow out the candles. I may share a bit of drink as well, but that depends on how much time I have or do not.
Well, there you have it. That is how normal rituals are done at Tegoslougos Nemotarvos, along with my own thoughts on various aspects of ritual, because I simply couldn’t resist. I hope you enjoyed the read.
Some Sources and Influences:
- Segomâros Widugeni – ‘The Basic Ritual Outline’
- Selgowiros Caranticnos – ‘A Practical Solution for Gaulish Devotional Practice’
- Ceisiwr Serith – ‘Deep Ancestors: Practicing the Religion of the Proto Indo Europeans’